Intelligence Community Whistleblowers

More FBI whistleblower reforms needed in next Congress

December 12, 2016. In the wee hours of Saturday morning’s lame duck session, the U.S. Senate passed a truncated version of the FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA). This bill was drawn from an excerpted portion of a bill of the same name, originally introduced by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in 2015. Whereas the original bill was a full reform of the broken FBI whistleblower protection system, there were last minute objections from the intelligence community that prevented enactment of the full FBI WPEA.

Continue Reading Congress Unanimously Closes One Loophole in FBI Whistleblower Protections

On December 6th, the National Whistleblower Center filed an amicus brief in support of FBI whistleblower Darin Jones. Jones alleged he made whistleblower disclosures about an improper award of a $40 million contract and other improper procurement spending at the FBI. The FBI fired him from his position as a Supervisory Contract Specialist, which Jones alleges was done as an act of retaliation for his whistleblowing. The FBI argued that the current inadequate whistleblower protections at the FBI did not protect Jones because they require whistleblowers to report to the highest-ranking FBI official at their job site, rather than reporting to their immediate supervisor, which is consistent with FBI policy. Because Jones behaved in a manner consistent with standard practices at the FBI of reporting alleged wrongdoing through the managerial chain of command, he was written out of whistleblower protection for supposedly not reporting his allegations to the correct office and the retaliation against him has thus far been tolerated by the Department of Justice.

Continue Reading Amicus Brief Filed on Behalf of FBI Whistleblower with Larger Reform Implications

October 12, 2016. Washington, D.C. Monday, the National Whistleblower Center and FBI whistleblowers Fred Whitehurst, Jane Turner, Mike German and Robert Kobus (Amici) filed an amicus curiae brief in a case before the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The brief was filed in Parkinson v. Department of Justice in support of John C. Parkinson, a former FBI special agent and Iraq war veteran. Continue Reading FBI Whistleblowers Ask Federal Circuit to Uphold Whistleblower Protections for FBI Employees

In a brief 3-page report dated September 15, 2016, the House Intelligence Committee concluded that Edward Snowden “was not a whistleblower” because there were “laws and regulations in effect at the time” that “afforded him protection” and he failed to exercise those whistleblower rights.  The Committee report specifically cited the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998 (IC WPA) that does permit employees, like Snowden, to make disclosures of wrongdoing to Congress if certain other conditions are met. Continue Reading House Intel Claim that Snowden Had Whistleblower Protection Is False and Misleading

On Monday, August 1st, four federal agencies celebrated National Whistleblower Day with an event sponsored by the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus. This was the first time any federal agencies have ever recognized Whistleblower Day, although the U.S. Senate has passed a resolution four years in a row proclaiming July 30th as National Whistleblower Day.

Continue Reading Agency Leaders Praise Whistleblowers, Express Need for Reforms

Today the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, a bi-partisan bill designed to protect FBI whistleblowers.  The bill, introduced by Committee Chair Chuck Grassley and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy, will reform current FBI whistleblower protections by providing compensatory damages for whistleblowers, expanding the scope of protected activity, ending bureaucratic delays in processing cases, and allowing for case review by independent administrative law judges. Now it will advance to the full Senate for a vote. Continue Reading Senate Judiciary Committee Unanimously Approves FBI Whistleblower Reform

Bill will significantly enhance agency’s ability to detect and combat terrorists threats

Washington, D.C. December 11, 2015.  Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced the FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2015, a bipartisan bill to reform and enhance protections for FBI whistleblowers.

The bill will significantly strengthen FBI whistleblower protections including providing compensatory damages for whistleblowers, expanding the scope of protected activity, ending bureaucratic delays in processing FBI whistleblower cases, and allowing for review of case by independent administrative law judges. Continue Reading Bipartisan Bill to Reform FBI Whistleblower Protections

FBI Whistleblower Jane Turner was featured in a September 9th article in the Timberjay Newspapers. Ms. Turner, the co-chair of the National Whistleblower Center’s “Whistleblower Leadership Council,” discusses her journey as a whistleblower in the article.

The courage and sacrifices of whistleblowers like Jane Turner need to be recognized and celebrated. Ms. Turner recently gave a moving speech honoring whistleblowers at the National Whistleblower Day Celebration held July 30th in Washington, D.C. Ms. Turner spoke directly to the whistleblowers in attendance stating, “Today we stand and Continue Reading FBI Whistleblower Featured in Timberjay News

Did you know that you can take two strands of hair from your own head and they may not match? Yet the FBI used forensic hair analyses for decades in the prosecution of criminal cases.  Last night Al Jazeera America’s Fault Lines program featured this issue.  FBI Whistleblower, Dr. Frederic Whitehurst, appeared in “Under the Microscope: The FBI Hair Cases” and discussed the flaws in the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation crime lab’s hair analyses. 

As head of the National Whistleblower Center’s Forensic Justice Project, Dr. Whitehurst compiled data from cases in which the FBI had given flawed testimony on hair analysis and compared that to the information that was released by the FBI and DOJ under FOIA. Dr. Whitehurst first raised these systemic problems at the FBI Lab more than 20 years ago.

In April 2015 the FBI admitted the FBI Lab’s forensic hair analyses used for decades in state and federal criminal cases were flawed and inaccurate more that ninety percent (90%) of the time. The recent reviews reported by the Washington Post in April were the direct result of Dr. Whitehurst’s initial whistleblower disclosures between 1995-1997.  Although Dr. Whitehurst was highly criticized and subjected to severe retaliation by the FBI for raising these concerns more 20 years ago, the admission by the FBI demonstrates that he was right. 

Also appearing on the program was David K. Colapinto, General Counsel of the National Whistleblower Center who has served as Dr. Whitehurst’s attorney for the past 20+ years.

Attorney David K. Colapinto discusses the FBI Crime Lab's flawed hair analyses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click photo to play video preview.

Al-Jazeera will replay this program on Sunday, August 23 at 9pm ET and Monday, August 24 at 1 am and 4:30 am ET.

Click here to read previous blogs on this issue.

Washington, D.C.  May 7, 2015.  The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that the National Security Agency’s (NSA) telephone metadata collection program, which gathers up millions of phone records on an ongoing daily basis, is illegal.

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden first revealed documents confirming the illegal program’s existence in June of 2013.

The government argued that it was authorized by the Patriot Act to secretly collect such data. Judge Gerard E. Lynch, writing for a three-judge panel, said the program “exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized.” Lynch continued that the Patriot Act “cannot bear the weight the government asks us to assign to it, and that it does not authorize the telephone metadata program.”

“Whether you supported or opposed Edward Snowden’s disclosure of this massive privacy violation committed by the NSA, the courts ruling today demonstrates the importance of whistleblowing,” stated Stephen M. Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center.

“The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives the American people the right to know about government misconduct. When our government is systemically violating the rights of its citizens, it often takes the courage of a whistleblower to alert the public to threats to our Liberty,” said Kohn.

There is significant historical precedent for the protection of whistleblowers demonstrating that such protections were strongly supported by the Founding Fathers. Mr. Kohn previously discussed this precedent in a New York Times Op-Ed, The Whistleblowers of 1777. Mr. Kohn is also the author of  The Whistleblower’s Handbook: A Step by Step Guide to Doing What’s Right and Protecting Yourself.

Related links:

Decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in ACLU v. Clapper.

U.S. NSA domestic phone spying program illegal: appeals court

NSA mass phone surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden ruled illegal